Symposium 2022: Sitecore Enters Its Next Phase of Growth
Sitecore Symposium 2022 was the first in-person Symposium in three years, so there was a palpable sense of excitement as we all connected with partners, colleagues, and customers there. As you’d expect, there were exciting new product announcements, inspirational keynotes (thank you, Mindy Kaling), and lots of deep-dive breakout sessions about the art and science of delivering digital experiences. For me, the most important takeaway from Symposium 2022 was that Sitecore crossed a critical point in its transformation into a cloud-native, composable digital experience platform (DXP).
With the integration of Stylelabs in 2019 (Sitecore Content Hub) followed by an unprecedented investment of 1.2 billion dollars in January 2021, Sitecore embarked on a journey to reinvent itself as a software as a service (SaaS) company offering a truly composable DXP. The investment fueled a rapid spree of acquisitions. Sitecore bought a new personalization engine and customer data platform (Sitecore Personalize and CDP), a headless commerce platform (Sitecore OrderCloud), an AI-powered commerce search engine (Sitecore Discover), and a marketing automation platform (Sitecore Send). All these solutions were successful, cloud-native products, and they formed the building blocks of what we now see in Sitecore's Content, Experience, and Commerce Clouds.
There were several big announcements at Symposium. The biggest ones were the general release of XM Cloud and two new product launches, Sitecore Search and Content Hub One. These releases mark a transition from Sitecore’s focus on technology acquisition to its integration and R&D-led product offerings built on top of its new SaaS foundation.
One example is the launch of Sitecore Search, an AI-powered search engine built on the technology that powers Sitecore Discover commerce search. Sitecore Search can power website search with advanced controls for tuning search relevancy, setting featured results, and providing intelligent content recommendations and personalized search results.
Another example is the announcement of Content Hub One, Sitecore's upcoming lightweight, headless content management system purpose-built for composable content management. While XM Cloud focuses on enabling marketers to build and deliver modern web experiences, Content Hub One is Sitecore's recommended solution for creating and managing reusable omnichannel content. It was built on Sitecore Content Hub's foundation and is a slimmer version of its older sibling.
XM Cloud is arguably the most important new product in Sitecore's growing portfolio. This SaaS content management system (CMS) is the next generation of the platform CMS that Sitecore built its reputation on. It’s exciting to see XM Cloud hit general availability with many new and planned enhancements, notably Pages, Components, and embedded personalization and analytics. Next, I’ll break down what makes all these pieces of XM Cloud exciting.
Sitecore Pages allows you to visually create and edit web pages and view analytics within the context of a page. Pages is the cloud-native successor to the Experience Editor but provides a much more focused and contextual interface than its predecessor. The Pages product highlights Sitecore's ambition to offer a "hybrid headless" CMS, ensuring that you can retain your ability to visually build and edit your website while gaining the performance benefits of headless delivery.
Sitecore Components lets you visually create and modify new components that can be used anywhere on your website. A unique feature of Components is that the content used for the component can come from Sitecore or non-Sitecore sources. The current demos of this upcoming feature show off the ability to visually build a new website component and retrieve content from a competitor's headless CMS, and visually map that content to fields in the newly designed component. This is a powerful demonstration of Sitecore's composable approach, allowing you to leverage tools in and out of the Sitecore stack.
Analytics and Personalization
XM Cloud offers integrated personalization and analytics based on the Sitecore Personalize and CDP Engines. While this is a more limited feature set than the full products, it’s an important addition to XM Cloud. These analytics will provide you with contextual information about the performance of your site and pages within the editor interface. Linking content authoring and editing with page performance creates a feedback loop that can help you create higher-performing content over time through continuous analysis and optimization.
Commitment to Composability
As Sitecore's product teams work to integrate and build out their SaaS DXP, they’re taking the concept of composability seriously. While Sitecore would prefer their customers to fulfill their DXP needs with their family of products, they know that high-performing organizations build their marketing and technology stacks using multiple providers. As an organization, they have committed to being a "friendly neighbor," meaning they will ensure that their products are easy to integrate with other DXP tools. While the concept of composability is excellent marketing, there are strong signals that composability is a core design philosophy of Sitecore products and not just window dressing.
At Symposium 2022, the Sitecore product team stated that when integrating their own products, they utilize the same APIs available to customers and technology partners. This approach leads to many positive outcomes. It opens up Sitecore products for integration and levels the playing field. Also, since Sitecore will rely on those same APIs for their development, it ensures that products remain API-first and continuously improve as new features and functionality is added. While composability is a trending marketing term in the DXP space, I believe that Sitecore's commitment to composability as a product design principal differentiates it from its peers and is a strategy that positions it for future growth.
There is clearly a lot happening in the Sitecore space, and we were excited to get a closer look at this year's Symposium. At Velir, we’re already exploring and implementing new Sitecore SaaS offerings. We would love to hear from you if you need help navigating Sitecore's new cloud products and developing your future DXP roadmap.